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There are some great women at FC St. Pauli and in the wider world of sport, but unfortunately still too few. Stephanie Gonçalves Norberto, Director of Education at the club's youth academy, aims to change that. We spoke to her about International Women's Day and the low percentage of women in sport. 

Today is International Women's Day, a day that reminds us we still have so much to do when it comes to equality. What does this day mean to you?

For me, every day is International Women's Day. I find it difficult to be silent about the issue 364 days a year and then remember, one day a year, that we aren't where we want to be yet, namely, equality between women, men and all non-binary people. Nevertheless, this day is very important because it gives the problem some visibility and shows us there is still a lot to do. 

In the entire debate, however, I often miss the intersectional view, unfortunately. It isn't enough to proceed solely from the viewpoint of the privileged white woman. You have to remember that there are many multiply marginalised people who are even more exposed to the issue because they're discriminated against in several ways. For example, through racism. Intersectionality is essential in my view.

The history of International Women's Day has always been about demanding the same rights for women as for men. Socially and politically. Where do you see us on this important issue?   

In football, four per cent of management positions are held by women. At FC St. Pauli we only have two women in full-time management positions in Anne Kunze and me, plus Sandra Schwedler and Christiane Hollander in a voluntary capacity. As far as I know, Sandra is the only woman chair of a supervisory board in the professional German game. That's a damning indictment in my eyes. You have to bear in mind what football is capable of achieving and the power it can develop. There is extreme responsibility in this power and in my opinion, football is still unaware of its responsibility.

What needs to happen?

We have to create some pressure. This can be done through a quota, for example. An attempt is being made at FC St. Pauli to introduce a quota for women on the decision-making bodies. Basically, companies have to realise that the issue is not a trend to be chased. It should be clear there's no longer any alternative.

As well as exerting outside pressure through rule changes, we also have to change the way we think and do things, be it consciously or subconsciously. How can we do better here?

We have to admit to ourselves that society is socialised to be sexist. We have a structural problem on several levels. One example is language. We need to reflect on this. Our language is male-dominated. We know that language can exclude people. This can be seen from the issue of racism, for example. The images we project are also male-dominated. When we look at adverts or the podiums at popular sports conferences, all we see is men. Companies and clubs have to modify their internal structures if they want to solve this significant problem in the long term.

Are people ready for this?

Mindsetting is important, of course, but unfortunately not everyone is willing to question their own self-perception. And that's the problem: the lack of empathy. Everyone has to realise they can make a contribution. Also, we have to listen to the people affected instead of questioning whether they really were treated in a sexist manner. We humans are learning more in other areas, after all. Why not here? You can educate yourself on the subject by reading books, listening to podcasts, or studying it in other ways.

The issue should be a top priority really.

Yes, it should. If we look at it like that, we're talking basics. It's about language, communication and people. But it's also about change. Systems aren't changed by the people who created them, as we know.

How do you see your role as a female leader in a young, male-dominated environment?

In my role as director of education, I also have to think about our young male players with regard to this topic. I keep saying it and I'll never tire of saying it: we have a huge responsibility in the academy. And one of our responsibilities is to show the boys what's possible, i.e. women at the top of football. I see my role as a female leader as a good first step, but we can't leave it at that.


Photos: Witters / Stefan Kraupner



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